TECHNIQUE

Accommodation of Casualty Meles meles - Eurasian Badger (Wildlife Casualty Management)
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Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management/ Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B.  This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Accommodation which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Meles meles - Eurasian badger

Transport Container:

  • Carrying cage of heavy mesh, small gauge to reduce risk of tooth damage.
  • Preferably with a crush facility.
  • Towels should be provided within the cage for bedding.
  • Cover any open sides with a cloth such as a towel or blanket (badgers remain calmer in the dark).
  • A dustbin (heavy plastic) may be used, with the lid securely fastened in place. (B152, B157.w10)
  • (B157.w10, B151, B152)

Short term (Immediate/Emergency) Accommodation:

  • Very strong wire mesh cage:
    • Small gauge mesh (no more than 5.0 x 2.5cm) to avoid tooth injury.
    • Preferably with a crush facility.
  • Ample bedding must be provided.
  • Cover cage or entrance door with a towel so that the inside of the container is only dimly lit.

(B151, B152, D25, V.w26)

Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation:

  • Dim, quiet pen.(D24)
  • Concrete, metal or similar required, not wood.
  • e.g. a run/ garage/loose-box, shed, with solid floor (concrete or slabs).
  • Size e.g. 2m x 2.5m to 2m x 7.5m. (B157.w10)
  • A box on its side should be provided for shelter.
  • Straw may be used for bedding (B152, B157.w10), or hay or blankets (D24).
    • Blankets may be particularly useful initially for monitoring of urination and defecation.(B157.w10)
  • Old car tyre filled with soil or cat litter may be used as a latrine. (B157.w10)
  • Water containers should be removable and washable, as badgers may defecate in these.(B157.w10)
  • If the pen has an open front, keep front covered with sacking.
  • Door access on a raised level (e.g. 30cm above the floor) and metal cladding on the interior of the door base reduces the risk of badgers digging out.(B157.w10)
  • An infra-red heat lamp may be used to provide heat and some light for monitoring purposes without overly disturbing the occupant. (B157.w10)
  • An observation window in a solid door will facilitate visual monitoring and observation without disturbing the occupant.(B157.w10)
  • Provision of an old log provides an object for scratching.
    • Reduces boredom.
    • Scratching is a sign the casualty is improving and may be approaching release time.
    • (B157.w10)

(B152, B157.w10, D24, D25)

Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation:

  • Outdoor paddock with a perimeter fence of chain link netting, 2m high with overhang at top.
  • Fence buried at least 0.3m and continuing inside enclosure for at least 1m (D28), or to at least 0.75 metres underground (B151) to prevent digging out.(B151)
  • Pen should be covered or have inward-facing overhang.
  • The perimeter of the fence should be checked daily for signs of digging or other damage which may allow escape.
  • Pen should contain a rudimentary artificial sett which can be extended by the badgers by digging into the soil.
  • Area 60-80 square metres may provide accommodation for a maximum of eight individuals in a cohesive social group:
    • Individual adult casualty badgers must be housed individually.
    • Badger cubs hand-reared in a stable social group should be group housed.
  • Pen should contain adequate vegetation and ground cover.
  • Ensure no agrochemicals are used within the paddock.
  • Ideally the pen should be situated at the intended release site, allowing a soft release from the pen.(D28)
  • Must allow discrete observation while animals are being integrated into the group.
  • (B151, D28, V.w26)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Short-term (Immediate / Emergency) Accommodation is designed to be used for a short period of time only, e.g. prior to examination, to allow basic first-aid to be carried out, while an animal requires intensive care, or while specialist accommodation is being prepared.
    • The most important requirements are warmth, quiet and dark or dim lighting.
  • Medium-term (Hospitalisation) Accommodation is designed for the short-term care of individual animals or groups of animals, particularly during treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Hospital accommodation is commonly constructed with hygiene and easy cleaning as the main considerations, but the specific needs of the patients, including behavioural needs, should also be considered.
  • Long-term (Rehabilitation and Permanent) Accommodation facilities for wildlife are generally larger and more complex than accommodation designed only for temporary occupancy.
    • In general this type of accommodation is not suitable for animals which require daily treatment.
    • A period in rehabilitation accommodation may be particularly important when an animal has been hospitalised for some time.
    • Rehabilitation accommodation may be used e.g. for group housing to avoid humanisation of juveniles prior to release.
Notes
  • In choosing or constructing accommodation for these animals it is important to consider the requirements for handling, provision of food and water, cleaning and disinfection (or disposal).
    • cleaning and provision of food and water may be facilitated if it is possible to subdivide the cage.
  • Accommodation should be checked daily for damage.
  • Rehabilitation accommodation must allow discrete observation while animals are being integrated into a group.
  • The perimeter fence of longer-term accommodation should be checked daily for signs of digging or other damage which may allow escape.
  • Ideally the pen should be situated at the intended release site, allowing a soft release from the pen.(D28)
  • If an animal is maintained in long-term care accommodation for a substantial period of time, the animal must have some form of environmental enrichment to encourage natural behaviours (possibly through food presentation techniques, cage furniture that encourages activity, or play items that would be found in its native environment). This is to reduce the risk of boredom as the animal becomes accustomed to its enclosure and the possible development of behavioural problems. (V.w6)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Risk of escape must be minimised.
    • Wooden structures will be destroyed rapidly and might allow escape.
  • Risk of injury to the occupant must be minimised.
  • Risk of injury to people must be minimised.
  • May be physical and/or psychological problems associated with confinement.
  • If sheet metal is used extensively in enclosure construction, dens may become cold and noisy - this effect should be minimised.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Most materials required for the construction of cages and rehabilitation enclosures may be obtained from standard fencing or farm-equipment stores.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Construction of longer-term accommodation requires some expertise.
Cost/ Availability
  • Construction of longer-term accommodation in particular may be expensive – the cost is generally proportional to the strength and durability of construction materials used.
Legal and Ethical Considerations See also specific legislation relating to: Meles meles - Eurasian badger.
  • Accommodation for casualty wild animals should be designed to minimise the stress on the animal and to minimise the risk of injury to that animal.
  • A wild animal in captivity is protected under the same welfare legislation as domestic animals, e.g. Protection of Animals Acts 1911-2000; under this legislation it is an offence to treat a captive animal cruelly or to cause it unnecessary suffering.
    • This includes an obligation to provide proper attention and care.
    • The keeper has a duty to keep all wildlife casualties in a fit manner, in accommodation of a size which allows reasonable movement and with an environment suitable for its normal way of life.
    • (J35.147.w1, P19.2.w1, D27, D28)
  • Accommodation which does not fulfil the physiological and psychological requirements of the animal and results in an inadequate level of fitness at the time of release may seriously compromise the survival ability of that animal. Release of an animal which is unfit may be an offence under the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960. (J35.147.w1, W5.Jan01)
  • Risks to human health, both physical and risk of zoonotic illness must be minimised: Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974.
  • An offence may be committed under article 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 if a species on Schedule 9 of that Act, or a species not ordinarily resident in the UK is allowed to escape from accommodation in which it is being housed.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties.
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman
References
FURTHER READING (Electronic Encyclopaedia)

Problems With Badgers?

(RSPCA)

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